Monday, November 28, 2022

My Cyber Monday Bite: Going (Very Partially) Solar

I've blogged now and again about how I'd like to "go solar" to at least some degree.

One problem with trying to do full household solar is that we don't own our home, so we can't get the "we install it, tied into the grid, and it's paid for by the money the power company pays for your excess power generation" deals.

Most of the "not tied into the grid, so you don't need permissions, etc." systems were more than I wanted to pay for the equipment to cover all our power needs.

So, I'm starting small.

Not as small as I did when we first moved here, which was just basically putting some cheap solar lamps outside to charge during the day, then using them to e.g. light my office at night.

But relatively small.

I took a Cyber Monday Amazon deal on a 330-watt / 300-watt-hour "power station" (not an affiliate link) and added a 160-watt solar panel (not an affiliate link) that comes with the right connector, etc. (and with a charge controller, which I may not need -- there may be one built into the "power station"). Total cost, about $300.

My plan is to build a frame for the panel that holds it at the optimum angle for gathering max sunlight through the day -- that is, I'm not going to mess with any gizmos to move the panel for constant optimization -- and put it in front of the house (the house faces south).

Then I'll run the cable through some pvc or conduit and up into the house via the same hole in the floor that the cable coax comes in through, and plug it into the power station.

I'm pretty sure that the power station is capable of drawing from the solar panel with outlet power as backup if the solar doesn't keep up, so I can run a few devices off of it without worrying that they'll go dead.

What I want to do is run my cable modem and router (maybe another device or two if the generation vs. consumption works out) on solar-generated, rather than grid, power.

The economics don't look that great. Rough guess, it will save me $2-3 a month on the electric bill.

But I consider the power station a good thing to have anyway, in order to keep our phones charged, run a minor appliance or two off of in the event of an extended power outage, etc. And for short power outages, I'm not waiting several minutes for stuff to reboot every time the lights flicker.

If it all goes swimmingly, maybe I'll invest in more panels and in a higher-wattage station at some point. If not, well, I will have finally scratched my solar itch.

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